Dec 30, 2009

Dan Walsh Knows My Laugh Spot

I've been a fan of Irishman, Dan Walsh's, GarfieldMinusGarfield webcomic for ages; I hate fat orange talking cats and much much prefer reading into the existential angst of Jon Arbuckle in the Garfield-free strips. I sporadically check in on Walsh's other blogs, too; Travors—his personal blog, and Doodlepipski—the blog where he collects a smattering of webcomics purely for my amusement. I popped in for a quick visit this morning, and had a chuckle at these three finds (click to zoom):

Well, we'll do that next year
Doodlepipski VIA Nedroidcomics

Where leprechauns really come from ...
Doodlepipski VIA Space Avalanche

Eat the pudding, eat the pudding, eat the pudding!
VIA Travors

Dec 29, 2009

David Hope: Daybreak Someplace

I was always one to cram the night before the exam so I guess it makes sense that I am frantically trying to cram in the best of the decade right before it ends. I've been rooting through other people's round-ups, finding Irish books I need to read, movies I need to watch, and today, right under my nose (or at least a stone throw's away from my brother's nose at home in Co. Clare), I found a musician I need to heed—David Hope.

As soon as I read he hails from Clare, I downloaded his album, Daybreak Someplace (just in case we're related).

Daybreak Someplace (released Nov 09)
I like the album—it was warm, easy fodder for a frigid cold day here in Brooklyn. My favorite track is a bluesy instrumental number, The Cuckoo's Return, and I also quite like See The Ghost (even more so after I saw the video below where he referred to this song as See the Goat!).

Also, the title track, Daybreak Someplace, is totally worthy of 4AM-drunken-ham-sandwich-sessions. I wouldn't even need to have too much to drink (or have too many onions on my sandwich) to cry at the immigrant notion that it's daybreak somewhere.

I must add though, that I find myself wishing Hope had suffered more as a child.
Don't get me wrong, he has a lovely way with the guitar, a decent folk voice, and YouTube videos show he's a warm and friendly sort with a likeable Brendan Grace (Irish comedian) down-off-the-mountain look about him, but it just feels like his spuds were always peeled for him.
Is it wrong to wish someone would take him back around the Burren on a banger of a bike on a rainy day? I'm thinking soggy socks, potholes, a slow puncture, ancestral whispers, and maybe a little (harmless) dangling of his granny over the Cliffs.
That'd put hair on his chest. And in his lyrics.

I also wish he'd stop singing "at least we knew heaven before we knew hell" and start singing about real people—the Springsteen kind of people now bypassed by Clare's convoluted network of highways. I might write him a song about the night Mary O'Halloran up the road heard the banshee wail as her mother lay dying; or the night after when she was pulling Angela McCarthy's hair as Billy Harty crooned Blue Suede Shoes ...

Anyway, I'm glad I've found David Hope; he'll be one to watch in the New Year.

David Hope's website,, seems to be suspended at the moment, but he's on MySpace and you can find his latest album on eMusic.

Dec 27, 2009

David Kitt's The Big Romance: Best Irish Album of the Decade?

The web, telly, and radio, are flooded with "best of the noughties" type content this weekend, and I'm reading them all knowing I've probably missed a thing or three-hundred the past ten years. Rather than list the required Top Ten albums of the decade, KD over at MP3Hugger (an indie mp3 blog based in Dublin) decided to focus on declaring the Best Irish Album of the Decade. Their pick was The Big Romance by David Kitt.
Now, I can understand feeling I'd missed something if they'd created a Top 100, or even, Top 10 of the Decade, but it seems I really haven't been spending enough time nosing at the window when I'm not familiar with this ONE pick! How lame am I? I've not only never heard of this album, I've never heard of David Kitt either!

Why The Big Romance stole MP3 Hugger's heart and title:
"...this was an album that I happened upon rather than seeking it out. We had decamped to Sydney for a few months and I had found this record shop that was selling ridiculously cheap CD’s and the primary colours of this album just stood out. The songs contained within revealed themselves slowly, the overriding soft focus slowly giving way to low slung melodies and deft instrumentation. The songs work best in the context of the album and as such it can be difficult to pick out an individual effort that would persuade newbies towards its gentle glory. Personal trauma involving the self same romance would soon rob Kitt of his mojo and his subsequent albums have been hit and miss affairs. The Dubliner is just better wired for writing music about bright love rather than its lost equivalent. Small moments rarely sound this good."
Sadly, I didn't just miss this album; I missed it by almost a decade! In my defense, I suppose I wasn't thinking the best Irish album of the decade would be sneakily released the second year of the new bloody decade (and the same year the first cloned cat was born!) Anyway, I'll beat myself up later; right now I need to download, listen to, and LOVE The Big Romance before its big decade ends.

Song from Hope St. (Brooklyn, NY), The Big Romance
Buy The Big Romance
Check out David Kitt's website
David Kitt on MySpace

Dec 18, 2009

Homemade Magazine

Ireland is hopping on the handmade bandwagon it seems with the debut earlier this week of Homemade. It's the pet project of Irish chef, media presenter, and writer, Clodagh McKenna, and, according to the website, it "invites us into Clodagh's kitchen to make delicious homemade foods and be a guest around the table with some of her favorite artisan food producers." She also offers homemaking advice, her top tips for gifting, arts and crafts, interiors, and travel.

I'm kind of surprised she went the magazine-route instead of creating a lifestyle TV series or an online magazine, but as a magazine consumer who finds that many of her favorite magazines have failed or sold their souls, I'm rooting for it. If Homemade keeps it real and attainable (with the required hint of luxury and escape), it'll feed into the public's current recession-encouraged desire/need to make their own food, clothes, gifts, etc. Also, by spotlighting Irish businesses, it'll encourage people to support Irish entrepreneurs and buy Irish—a magazine after my own heart!

I've contacted Clodagh's press rep for more details, and will write more once I have more details and a copy in hand (hint to my sister!), so watch this space!

Dec 16, 2009

Keep Calm and Drink Card

I attended a nutrition workshop last night where our speaker suggested ways to cut back on caffeine intake. It was funny because earlier in the day I had been pondering ways to streamline my tea-drinking process so as to squeeze more caffeine into my day (move my desk into the kitchen? invent a remote-controlled kettle? move to India?). Even worse, I was printing out several copies of this cute—and free!—card from Whisker Graphics, encouraging others to drink, too!
Head over to the Whisker Graphics blog and download your own free copy of this card. Then print it out, add a fancy tea bag, and send it off to a friend in need of a calming cuppa. I'll send one to my mother to tell her to stay calm, have a cup of tea, your Christmas card is coming. One to my sister, who is feeling guilty this season for facilitating a canine suicide (of her mother-in-law's dog) earlier in the year. I'll also deliver one to my friend Jessica who is waiting on British Airways to get a conscience.
Okay, I'll put the kettle on ...

Dec 10, 2009

Jasmine Guinness Clothing Line For Very

Jasmine Guinness, photo by Linda Nylind/

Seems "Guinness" is the word of the week with me this week; can you tell I need a night out? I was reading the Irish Independent earlier on today and saw that Jasmine Guinness, heiress to the Guinness fortune and supermodel (all-you-can-drink Guinness and good looks too? ugh), has just debuted her own clothing line for I just checked it out and it's vintage-inspired and hugely wearable. I'm especially loving these pieces:

Pity Guinness didn't model the line herself, or at least put them on a woman with a bit of meat on her bones. She says she designs for "real women," and I'd imagine these vintagey designs would look a lot better on a real —read: booby-and-bottomy—woman.
Very does not as yet ship overseas, which is not very nice at all. For now, I will have to settle for window-shopping virtually, or shipping that perfect little black dress to my sister (who will probably swipe it for herself).

Dec 8, 2009

I Guinness NY!

I had a lovely pint of Guinness last Saturday. It was made all the better by the fact that it was the middle of the day, it was cold outside and the bar was warm and cozy, and my bartender took care, pride, and time pouring my lovely pint. It was like arriving at a doctor's office on a day when all the rest of his appointments have been cancelled, and the good doctor—in a fit of nostalgia for the days when he actually cared—decides to sit and chat with you, give you a thorough going over with tests your insurance doesn't cover, and tells you authoritatively that you do not have, and never will have, an infectious disease.
If I'd had a camera with me, I'd have taken a picture of that pint. I've been thinking about it a lot since, not because I'm an alcoholic, but because I've been awakened to the fact that I drink a lot of mediocre Guinness. There are (roughly) gazillions of self-proclaimed Irish bars in New York City, and yet a decent pint of Guinness is a rarity.

Seems someone should rise to the occasion of rating them.
Okay, I twisted my arm.

I've wanted to document my impressions of Manhattan's Irish bars, and the quality of their Guinness, for ages now, if only so I could confidently tip off visiting Irish friends and family (who inevitably want to hang out in an Irish bar while here!) It seems I've found myself a resolution for 2010, and one I'm actually eager to get a head start on!
I'll take Manhattan, one pint at a time. Watch this space...

Dec 2, 2009

The Buy/By Irish Etsy Gift Guide

It's the first week of December and I've already missed Christmas. See, to send gifts and cards to family and friends in Ireland and Australia before Christmas, I need to buy, wrap, and ship them all last week. That, or I vigorously knock snow boots with a certain red-suited older man in the delivery business to avoid express shipping rates.
I can't time-travel, and I won't get in the backseat of Santa's sleigh, so I'm going to make the most of Etsy's Shop Local tool! Thanks to this handy little tool, I can find vendors in any country (in this case, Ireland), and then have my gifts shipped directly to the recipient. I'll save on shipping costs, save the local economy, save the planet, and save Christmas, too!

Here are a few of my favorite gift-picks from Irish Etsy vendors:
Gorgeous jewelry from Black Lotus Design (free shipping worldwide)

Sweet felted bears with gems from Ememem (previously featured here)

Beautiful sterling silver rings, earrings, and pendants from Made For An Angel

Knit and hand-felted berets, brooches, gloves, and jewelry from Crafts 2 Cherish

Precious pocket art mirrors from Meluseena

Affordable bling from Funky Blink

Sweet handknit mittens from Love Lambie (previously featured here)

Folk art ornaments and greeting cards from Lady Bird Art

Delicate but edgy jewelry from Clodagh Molloy

Wild and interesting felt scarves from Feltfieltrofilc

As you can see, there's no shortage of unique and beautiful gifts in the Irish corner of Etsy for either side of the Atlantic. Now to get my friends and family to shop this list for me!